Iconic singer, songwriter, artist, and most importantly, writer, Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature on Thursday. The honour, for “having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition,” seemed to have created divided opinions.
Whilst there is no dearth of people ecstatic at the news of Dylan winning the Nobel, there are also many who are beyond annoyed that the Committee has extended the literature category this year to include songwriting, which I believe is indeed a brilliant form of art in its own right.
The Nobel Committee has clearly understood the phenomenon that is Bob Dylan. His work is prescient – addressing opening political and social issues. By bringing attention to his work now, the Committee has encouraged a whole new generation to listen to his powerful opinions especially at a time when the current world scenario indicates a perilous rise of racist, misogynist, and to an extent fascist forces, especially in the United States of America.
The truth is, most song lyrics don’t really hold up without the music simply because they are not supposed to but Bob Dylan is one of those few songwriters whose lyrics are just as magical on paper as they are when accompanied with the harmonica, guitar and of course, his distinctive voice.
Anyone who doubts that Dylan is not a writer or that songwriting is not a form of art should read his memoir, “Chronicles”, which proves that he is indeed a scholar and master of multiple genres.
Lastly, for those who still believe Bob Dylan didn’t deserve the honor, perhaps “the times they are a-changing.”